Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ex-Yokohama Line Trains in Indonesia

Test run scene of set H1, the EMU KRL Jabodetabek (ex-JR East Yokohama Line) 205 series
Photo: Faris Fadhli

I have received news from an active Indonesian rail fan again. All sets of the ex-Yokohama Line trains, JR East EMU 205 series, have already come into service in Jakarta, Indonesia. My thanks go to Mr. Faris Fadhli, who kindly sent me the recent photos.

The 205 series is a 1,067 mm gauge and 1,500 V direct current EMU, which was originally launched in Japan in 1985. It has been widely operated on the urban routes in Tokyo. About the 170 units have been moved to Indonesia after their retirement from the Yokohama Line in Japan, as Indonesian railway operator, KRL Jabodetabek (Jakarta Metropolitan Commuter Electric Railway), is pursuing modernization of the railways in the capital city.

The top photo shows a precious test run scene of set number H1 of the 205 series on the Bogor Line. The double stripes on the side bodies have already been changed to the corporate colors of KRL Jabodetabek (red and yellow); however, the stripes on the front still have the original colors of the Yokohama Line (light green and green). This kind of mismatch has a strong appeal to rail-fans, who love rarity.

The second photo shows a scene of the regular operation of set number H14 of the 205 series. My question is about the shooting location. It is probably a newly electrified double track section, installed since I left Jakarta in 2011. Can you tell me a little more about the locality?

Set H14 of the EMU KRL Jabodetabek (ex-JR East Yokohama Line) 205 series in Indonesia
Photo: Faris Fadhli

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Steepest Railways in Japan and the World

Funicular "Momiji (maple)" stands at Kiyotaki Station on the Takao Tozan Railway

I received information from one of my blog readers, in which he introduced a steep railway in Australia. I have also ridden on it before. It is Katoomba Scenic Railway in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales. This funicular is the steepest railway in the world at inclines of up to 52 degrees.

Katoomba Scenic Railway was originally constructed for a coal mining operation. It was a cable-driven funicular and remained as a sightseeing railway after the mine was closed in 1945. Its operating length is 310 m.

When I visited there in 1981, I was still a student. It was very exciting to ride an open-top passenger car in a rustic atmosphere. After going down the steep track, I reached a scenic spot to view the Three Sisters (oddly-shaped rocks) in a rain forest. According to the railway's website, the passenger cars have already been changed to modern ones, but it must have kept the fantastic surrounding as it was.

A worthy rival of Katoomba Scenic Railway in Japan is Takao Tozan Railway in Tokyo Metropolis. It was opened in 1927 and its line length is 1,020 m. This funicular is Japan's steepest cable-driven railway at inclines of up to 31 degrees. You can experience the maximum inclination in a dark tunnel. So, it is much more thrilling than most passengers imagine before boarding.
Katoomba Scenic Railway, NSW, Australia (February, 1981)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Samurai Path on the Keisei Line

EMU Keisei 3700 series travels on the Keisei Main Line

Sakura is an old city in Chiba Prefecture, some 50 km east of Tokyo. It has been developed as a major city of the Shimousa region (northern part of Chiba Prefecture) since around the 15th century. Specifically, it has prospered since the 17th century, when Sakura Castle was constructed by Load Doi Toshikatsu. Although the castle was demolished during the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, we can still see some moats and earthworks that surrounded the castle.

Along with the castle ruins, the ex-samurai residential area is a popular spot in Sakura City. Several ex-samurai houses are still preserved and open to the public. True, it is interesting to visit those houses, but my favorite is a foot path toward the ex-samurai residential area. It is called "Hiyodori (brown-eared bulbul) Sloping Path" by local people. Hiyodori Sloping Path is just unpaved narrow stairs surrounded by a bamboo forest. It is rather dark even during the daytime. When I climbed up this sloping path, I created an illusion of passing a samurai, who was descending the slope.

To get to this historical city, the Keisei Main Line is convenient. It takes about 50 minutes from Ueno Station in the downtown Tokyo area. The EMU 3700 series is one of the main fleets on the line. This urban commuter train was launched in 1991 as the Keisei's first EMU with a VVVF-inverter (variable frequency drive) control system. You can feel comfortable on a journey to the old castle city.

Hiyodori Sloping Path near Keisei-Sakura Station on the Keisei Main Line
More information about trains on the Keisei Line (in Japanese):

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Old and New Rolling Stocks on the Gotemba Line

EMU JR Central 313-3000 series travels on the Goremba Line

Whenever I visit a local railway, I also try to look for preserved old rolling stock there. For instance, when I visited the Gotemba Line last year, I came across an old steam locomotive (SL), which had been operated on the line. It was unit number 70 of the Type D52 preserved in front of Yamakita Station.

The D52 is a 2-8-2 (Whyte notation) type SL that has a tender attached. A total of 285 units had been built for three years since 1943 to pull 1,200 ton-class freight trains in the closing days of World War II. Overtaking the Type D51, the D52 had the largest driving wheel output among all SLs in Japan. After WWII, the D52 70 was moved to the Gotemba Line to pull the trans-mountain freight and passenger trains. Eventually, it was retired from the track in 1968, because the Gotemba Line was electrified. The distinctive feature of this SL is its large boiler. It was quite impressive for me.

In the meantime, the latest rolling stock on the Gotemba Line is the EMU 313-3000 series launched in 1999. It has four 185kW induction motors with two IGBT-VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) control systems per unit. The maximum speed is 130km per hour. The track gauge is 1,067mm and the electric system is 1,500V overhead. The 313-3000 series is operated every 30 minutes on average.

Both old and new rolling stocks are seen on the Gotemba Line.

Steam locomotive D52 70 is preserved in front of Yamakita Station on the Gotemba Line

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Setting of the Big Dipper: Part 2

Overnight sleeper train, Hokutosei (the DD51 and the 24 series) stands at Hakodate Station 
Following my previous post, I am going to show you the operation of Hokutosei after arriving at Hakodate Station.

Hakodate was opened as a trading port by Tokugawa Shogunate in 1859. Hakodate Station has four bay platforms (dead-end platforms) in front of Hakodate Port, which is located near the head of Hakodate Peninsula. Thanks to its structure, the passengers, who came from Honshu (the main island of Japan) by a railway ferry boat, could transfer to a train in Hokkaido Island smoothly at this station. Today, the ferry is no longer operated, as the Seikan Submarine Tunnel was opened, but the scenery of the Hakodate Station is still the same as it was.

After arriving at the historical platform, Hokutosei releases the electric locomotive, Type ED79, from the dead-end side. It, then, receives the diesel locomotive (DL), Type DD51, on the other end of the train. This is because the track from Hakodate to the Sapporo Terminal is mainly non-electrified.

The DL, Type DD51, was launched in 1962 to replace steam locomotives on the trunk lines of Japanese National Railways (JNR). A total of 649 units were manufactured over 16 years. Currently, JR Hokkaido, which has taken over the role of JNR in Hokkaido Island, owns 13 units of Type DD51. The vigorous double-heading operation of the Hokutosei train is seen in the northern steep track between Hakodate and Sapporo.

The Big Dipper will go below the horizon soon. Ride it while you still can.
Hokutosei (the Big Dipper) leaves Hakodate Station, and heads to Sapporo Terminal

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Setting of the Big Dipper

Over night sleeper train "Hokutosei" pulled by the EL, Type  EF510, stands at Ueno Station
On December 19th last year, JR East made a press release, announcing that the regular operation of the overnight sleeper train, "Hokutosei (the Big Dipper)" will be discontinued after March 15th this year.

Hokutosei is operated between Ueno in Tokyo Metropolis and Sapporo in Hokkaido Prefecture, passing through the Seikan Submarine Tunnel. It covers a distance of 1214.7 km in about 16 hours. This train was launched in 1988, when the Seikan Submarine Tunnel was opened. Although the luxury of the interior doesn't come up to that of Cassiopeia, Hokutosei is also very popular among tourists.

JR East's electric locomotive (EL), the Type EF510 pulls the blue-colored passenger cars (the 24 series), between Ueno and Aomori. The EF510 is, then, switched to the special EL, Type ED79, at Aomori Station to pass through the Seikan Submarine Tunnel because it is a steep track with a unique signal system.

JR East explains that the operation of Hokutosei train stands in the way of the test run train for the Hokkaido Shinkansen in the Seikan Submarine Tunnel. As you may know, commercial trains of Hokkaido Shinkansen will also use the Seikan Submarine Tunnel (1,067 and 1,435mm-size dual gauge) from March, 2016.

According to JR East, Hokutosei will continue to run as a special train during the peak season; however, many rail fans believe that it will be abolished before the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen.

The Big Dipper will go below the horizon soon.
Side view of the electric locomotive (EL), JR East EF510-508

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Urban Seaside Station on the Tsurumi Line: Revisit

EMU JR East 205-1100 series arrives at Umishibaura Station on the Tsurumi Line

I visited Umishibaura Station 3 years and a half to the day since 2011. It still keeps a fantastic surrounding in the urban area.

Umishibaura... where is it? It is a small terminal on the Umishibaura Branch Line of the JR East Tsurumi Line. It is just a local line in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but what this station makes famous is its location. The platform is situated on the coast. So, you can get a fine view of Tokyo Bay including the elegantly styled Tsurumi Tsubasa Bridge on the Tokyo Bay Highway.

As I introduced previously, the function of Umishibaura Station is to commute people who work for Toshiba Keihin Factory. So, we see trains frequently during rush hour; however, trains are operated only once every two hours in the weekend. Passengers, who aren't Toshiba employees, cannot exit the station, because it is located within the Toshiba private site. Instead of this restriction, Toshiba kindly provides the public with a lovely small park adjacent to the platform.

I stayed two hours on the platform to shoot an incoming train, the EMU 205-1100 series with blue water. It was a sunny afternoon, but very cold as the strong north wind passed through this scenic platform. I saw two more rail fans on the platform like me. Rail fans are indeed curiosity seekers, aren't they?

For your information, the Umishibaura Branch Line is a 1.7 km long single track route connecting Asano on the Tsurumi (main) Line and Umishibaura Terminal.

EMU JR East 205-1100 series stands at Umishibaura Station on the Tsurumi Line

Thursday, 15 January 2015

National Treasure on the Seibuen Line

Set number 2019F of the EMU Seibu 2000 series arrives at Seibuen Station on the Seibuen Line
Although Tokyo is a modernized city, many historical constructions are still preserved. For instance, the five-story stupa in Ikegami-Honmonji temple is famous for a medieval buiding in the downtown area. Today, I am going to show you the other old wooden building, which is a unique National Treasure in Tokyo Metropolis.

Jizodo Hall was constructed in 1407 as a main building of Shofukuji Temple in Higashi-Murayama City of Tokyo Metropolis. The East Asian hip-and-gable styled roof is very beautiful. This precious building was designated as a National Treasure in 1952. Strange to say, it is less-famous among Tokyoites. Perhaps, it is famous only among local people. It is sitting on a gold mine, isn't it?

To see this wooden building, please take the Seibuen Line of Seibu Railway, and get off at Seibuen Terminal. The Seibuen Line is a feeder route of the Seibu-Shinjuku Line. Connecting Higashi-Murayama and Seibuen stations, its operating length is only 2.4 km. The entire route is an electrified single track. The track is 1,067 mm-size and the electric system is 1,500 V DC overhead.

6-car trains, the EMU 2000 series, are operated every 20 minutes during the daytime. The EMU 2000 series was launched in 1977 to reinforce Seibu Railway's transportation capacity. A total of 102 units (except the New 2000 series) had been manufactured by Seibu-Tokorozawa Factory for three years. Its specification is rather old (DC motors with field chopper control system); however, the 2000 series still keeps a beautiful figure like the National Treasure building, Jizodo Hall, near the track.

Jizodo Hall (Natioal Treasure) in Shofukuji Temple near Seibuen Station on the Seibuen Line
More information about the EMU Seibu 2000 series (in Japanese):

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

EMU 205-500 Series: Enigma of the Gangway

EMU JR East 205-00 s5eries arrives at Shimomizo Station on the Sagami Line

Three years and a half has passed since I have started this blog. In this period, I have received many questions from foreign rail fans. Sorry it has taken me so long to reply in almost all cases, as I am continually busying myself with my affairs, but I will reply to you without fail.

Looking at the recent characteristics, I have received very advanced or detailed questions about Japanese railways. For instance, I received a question about a "gangway" on the front of the EMU JR East 205-500 series last year. The blog reader asked whether "the black colored rectangle" on the left hand side of the front is a gangway or just a decoration. What a detailed question it is! This questioner's sense of curiosity is higher than those of Japanese rail fans!

Well, in answer to the question... the black colored rectangle is just a decoration. It is NOT a gangway. As you know, subway trains have to have a gangway on the front for emergency evacuation in Japan by the ordinance of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), but the 205-500 series is NOT a subway train. So, it doesn't need to have a gangway on the front.

For your information, the 205-500 series is operated on the Sagami Line. The Sagami Line is a local route, connecting Chigasaki on the Tokaido Main Line and Hashimoto on the Yokohama and Keio-Sagamihara lines.
EMU JR East 205-500 series with a black colored "gangway" on the front stands at Ebina Station

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Boat Tour in the Water City

EMU Kita-Osaka Kyuko 8000 series arrives at Yodoyabashi Station on the Subway Midosuji Line
Osaka, also known as the water city, has many bridges crossing rivers. In the Edo Period (1603-1868), there were more than 200 bridges in the city. Osaka was the center of the water transportation system on the Yodo and the other rivers at that time.

Today, water transportation in Osaka has declined. We can't see what it used to be... but wait a minute! Let's join the boat tour. The rivers still have some traces of the past. When I visited Osaka with my family last year, we joined "the boat tour guided by a Rakugo storyteller (traditional Japanese comedian)". It was exciting, as the Rakugo storyteller included jokes to give his explanation a lighthearted tone.

Time has changed. Currently, the main transportation system in Osaka is railways. Specifically, the subway network in the downtown area is well developed. To embark on the boat tour, we took the subway Midosuji Line operated by Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau, and got off at Namba Station. The Midosuji Line was opened in 1933 as the first subway route in Osaka City. Its operating length is 24.5 km. The track is 1,435 mm-size gauge and double. The electric system is 750 V DC the third rail.

Trains on the Midosuji Line are directly operated onto the Kita-Osaka Kyuko Line, therefore, we can also see the trains from the Kita-Osaka Kyuko, such as the EMU 8000 series on the Midosuji Line.

Boat tour in Osaka City

More information about Osaka Municipal Transportation Bueau:
More information about the Kita-Osaka Kyuko Line:

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Sunrise Express in the Volkerwanderung Season

EMU JR Central 285 series, overnight sleeper train, "Sunrise Express" enters Tokyo Station

Along with "Obon (a Buddhist festival)", Year-end and New Year is the largest holiday season for Japanese people. Many people take holidays, and go back to their hometown to visit their parents, relatives and friends. One day in this "volkerwandering season", I visited Tokyo Station to see what was going on. It was hustle-bustle on platform number 9. Most people were families, who would go back to their hometowns, boarding on the Sunrise Express.

What is the Sunrise Express? It is an overnight sleeper train that has comfortable berthing. Connecting Tokyo, Takamatsu and Izumo-shi, it travels on four JR group railways, namely JR East, JR Central, JR West and JR Shikoku. A 14-car train, the EMU 285 series is operated as the "Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo Express", from Tokyo to Okayama. This train is detached after arriving at Okayama Station. The Sunrise Seto Express (a 7-car train) then runs to Takamatsu; meanwhile, another 7-car train is operated to Izumo-shi as the Sunrise Izumo Express.

For your information, the EMU 285 series is a 1,067 mm gauge size and 1,500 V DC sleeper train owned by JR West and JR Central. A total of 5 sets, 35 units were manufactured in 1998 by Kinki Sharyo, Nippon Sharyo and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. I think that the sleeper EMU, the 285 series, is quite unique. So, I hope that the 285 series will continue to be operated the same as it has been till now.

Boarding on the Sunrise Express, have a nice dream!

The Sunrise Express (Sunrise Seto & Sunrise Izumo) stands at platform number 9 in Tokyo Station

Route map of Sunrise Seto and Sunrise Izumo Express (in Japanese):
More photos of the Sunrise Express:
More information about Sunrise Express (Interior photos with captions in Japanese):

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Nostalgic Station on the Enoden Enoshima Line

EMU Enoden 2000 series travels on the Enoshima Line
After joining the public event, "Tankoro Festival", which was held in Gokurakuji Rail Yard, I returned to Gokurakuji Station on the Enoden Line.

Gokurakuji is a small station located in the valley of the Gokurakuji River. If you come from Kamakura boarding on a westbound train, it appears just after passing through Gokurakuji Tunnel. Gokurakuji is normally a quiet station, which has a daily ridership of only about 500 people, but I saw many passengers who joined the Tankoro Festival at the rail yard on that day. This lovely station was opened in 1904. The design of the green colored station-name signboard is quite nostalgic. The station square is also antique. You can see a vermilion-colored old post box on the right hand side of the station building. It is said that cherry trees in full bloom are seen in spring there.

Since it was a sunny afternoon, I changed my mind and enjoyed a stroll for a while instead of going back home directly by train. When I walked along the Enoden's railway track, an EMU 2000 series passed me by. The 2000 series is my favorite, as it has a large window and a destination display for all four seasons on the front. It was launched in 1990 and a total of 3 sets, 6 units have been manufactured so far by Tokyu Sharyo. Its matcha (a kind of Japanese green tea) colored body matches the scenery of historical green Kamakura City.

Gokurakuji Station on the Enoden Enoshima Line
More information about the Enoden 2000series (in Japanese):

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Haruka: Access from Kansai Airport to Osaka City

EMU JR West 281 series, the airport express train, "Haruka", travels on the Hanwa Line
There are two international airports in Osaka Prefecture. One of them is Osaka Airport, known as Itami. Another one is Kansai Airport. Kansai is the newer airport constructed in Osaka Bay. It is located 5 km offshore from Izumi-Sano City. If you arrive at Kansai Airport, you can choose from two railway routes to go to downtown Osaka... JR West or Nankai Electric Railway.

JR West's representative airport train is the EMU 281 series, "Haruka (far away)" express. Connecting Kansai Airport and Shin-Osaka, Kyoto and Maibara stations, and it is operated every half an hour on average. The 281 series is a 6 or 9 (6+3)-car train debuted in 1994. A total of 9 sets, 63 units have been manufactured so far by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo. It is a 1,067 mm size-gauge and 1,500 V DC train with GTO-VVVF inverter (variable frequency drive) electric control system. The maximum speed of the 281 series is 130km/hour.

I used Haruka to go to Osaka City from Kansai Airport last November. Please note that the Haruka doesn't stop at Osaka Station because it is operated via the Umeda Freight Line. So, I got off at Shin-Osaka and came back to Osaka Station by a local train on the Tokaido Main Line.

When I reached Osaka Terminal, I could see the beautiful deep ultramarine color in the western sky after the sunset. The twilight hour in Osaka was a photogenic period the same as in Tokyo.

Night view of the central north square in JR West Osaka Station
More information about the EMU JR West 281 series, "Haruka" (in Japanese):
More information about Kansai Airport access trains:

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Memorable Station on the Inokashira Line

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Set number 1721F of the EMU Keio 1000 series arrives at Takaido Station on the Inokashira Line
Happy New Year! The year 2015 has begun. At the opening of New Year, I am going to show you my meorable railway station.

Takaido Station is located on the Keio-Inokashira Line and is close to my kindergarten. Although I went to kindergarten normally by school bus, I sometimes used a train, if the school bus didn't run.

Takaido was a quiet station at that time. All trains were local. No trains passed through this station. There were short and narrow separate platforms on the dual track. Since it is located on a small hill, I could look over the tower of my kindergarten from the platform. The main fleet on the Inokashira Line was an old green colored train without air-conditioners. The boarded floor had the smell of varnish. An old nose suspension drive system generated the unique rattling sound.

Today, Takaido Station has totally changed. The platform has been reconstructed as a wide and spacious island style one, but it has become noisy, because a new highway penetrates under the platform. I can't see the tower of my kindergarten anymore, because the station area has become crowded with buildings. The trains have also totally changed. The latest model, the EMU 1000 series, arrives at and leaves the station all the time. Some of them are express trains, which pass through the station at high speed.

Only a feeling, which I still have the same as my childhood, is "excitement", when the train climbs up the hill and approaches the station. Sparkling in the morning sun, the trains are very beautiful. As the boy, so the man.

Set number 1726F of the EMU Keio 1000 series arrives at Takaido Station on the Inokashira Line